The American Red Cross has released a white paper (the last chapter is not yet completed) entitled: The Case for Integrating Crisis Response with Social Media. This important paper describes how:
[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=twitter&iid=8522875″ src=”http://view.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/8522875/twitter-founders-biz-stone/twitter-founders-biz-stone.jpg?size=500&imageId=8522875″ width=”234″ height=”162″ /]”The social web is creating a fundamental shift in disaster response that is asking emergency managers, government agencies, and aid organizations to mix their time-honored expertise with real-time input from the public.”
The paper isn’t a cheerleading piece, but a thoughtful discussion of the challenges that this new communications medium creates: “As of today, most of us are not yet ready (or willing–my sentiment) to collect, respond or react to this incoming social data in a timely manner.” The emergency response community just does not have plans, policies or procedures in place to deal with crisis information coming from the public other than through 911.
The paper also addresses the “Crisis Collaboration Movement” (see my earlier posting Weapons of Mass Collaboration). In particular, it addresses how new media and technology are changing the nature of volunteering: with new tools such as Ushahidi, people can contribute from their home computer to assist survivors and responders located thousands of miles away. The question, however, is how to integrate their efforts into the official response apparatus. ESF? Another challenge is how to coordinate volunteer efforts to avoid unnecessary duplication.